Abstract—The area of mobile communication is fast
developing as a result of the technological advancement in the
field of mobile and wireless communication. Obviously, 3G was
once acclaimed as a recent technology in the field of wireless
and mobile communication until the arrival of 4GLTE. The
quest for a faster speed, lower latency, better QoS and ability to
interoperate with all existing network are some of the factors
that brought up the emergence of 4GLTE network. In this
paper we provide an overview of all network generations from
the first generation to the fourth generation as well as the
differentiating features that supports the superiority of the
4GLTE network to the 3G network are well stated. We use
self-analytical tools like bar charts to compare the features of
4GLTE and 3G networks. The concluding part of this paper
presents improvements needed in 4GLTE.
Index Terms—3G, 4GLTE, OFDMA, comparison of 3G and
According to Hodgkinson , the emergence of wireless
communication never came on board recently but for many
decades the improvements were done to make it more
developed to meet the end users’ needs, more importantly in
the area of mobile communications. The development in
mobile broadband use is vivid recently, such that Internet
generation grows to having broadband access everywhere.
This affirms the mobile broadband market share and forecast
report given by The NPD Group that active mobile
broadband devices will reach 34million, a nearly 50 percent
increase from 2013. In recent times, browsing of the Internet,
sending and receiving of emails, sending and receiving of
music and videos are done through the use of the 3G network.
With 4GLTE, the user experience is better enhanced as the
lower latency brings better experience in gaming and other
graphics related software. LTE was initially planned by NTT
DoCoMo of Japan in November, 2004 as the international
standard . Today different cellular and wireless firms want
a major increase in capacity which has to be carried in
coming years beyond fourth generation of wireless standards
in Long Term Evolution (4GLTE)  or 3GPP Long Term
According to Kumaravel , 4GLTE network brings
better benefits in its performance and capacity to both the end
users and service providers. Even the migration from 4GLTE
to LTE-Advanced and device to device communication 
was done to a certain extent in non-African countries. But
African countries are still experiencing challenges even to
use and implement the 4GLTE network. Some of the
Manuscript received November 18, 2014; revised May 20, 2015. This
work was supported in part by University of Johannesburg.
The authors are with University of Johannesburg, South Africa (e-mail:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com).
promised benefits of 4GLTE are: downlink peak rate of
100mbps and an uplink peak rate of 1Gbps, a low latency of
less than 20ms, and a speed of 200mbps. With these
improvements over 3G network, 4GLTE is superior and can
be regarded as the needed technology for present developing
The remainder of this paper is organized as follows: In
Section II we discuss the objectives and in Section III, we
provide a brief description of the network generations from
1G to 4GLTE. Section IV deals with the methodology used
for our findings on why 4GLTE is superior over 3G. In
Section V we provide the data analysis and results of
comparative features between 3G and 4GLTE with priority
given to the benefits of 4GLTE over 3G network. Thereafter,
formulation of data to affirm comparison between the two
networks was also done in this phase of the paper. In Section
VI we use self-analytical tools like bar charts to establish the
described merits of 4GLTE network described in Section V
of the paper. Finally, in Section VII we conclude the paper
showing the challenges faced by 4GLTE network in recent
The main objective of this paper is to compare 3G and
4GLTE networks. The other sub-objectives are:
1) To determine the superiority of the 4GLTE network over
the widely used 3G network.
2) To compare some features in particular: interoperability,
latency, scalability, design specification, convergence,
networking, cost effectiveness and data transmission
3) To illustrate and compare downlink, uplink speed and
latency between 3G and 4GLTE.
To explore the challenges faced by 4GLTE network and its
merit over 3G.
III. OVERVIEW OF WIRELESS NETWORKS
Considering the mobile telephony and wireless
communication, its history can be categorized into different
generations of networks. The first generation 1G according to
 is an analogue, voice based network. It evolved in the
1980s with some standards which includes: AMPS, NMT,
TDMA and TACS. Its evolution to 2G network was basically
due to its slow speed.
The three primary benefits of 2G network over its
predecessor is that - phone conversations were digitally
encrypted; 2G systems were significantly more efficient on
the spectrum allowing for far greater mobile phone
penetration levels; and 2G introduced data services for
mobile, starting with SMS text messages. This network is
primarily designed to offer voice services to the subscriber
Comparative Study of 3G and 4GLTE Network
A. D. Abioye, M. K. Joseph, and H. C. Ferreira
of Advances in Computer Networks, Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2015
hence it has a low transfer rates. It is primarily based on
CDMA and TDMA, depending on the multiplexing
technique used. The 2G is widely referred to as the GSM
The 2G and the 3G network have two network generation
bridges between them. They are the 2.5G and 2.75G. The
2.5G is a value added network to the preceding 2G network
such that it adds packet switching technique to the existing
circuit switching. It is widely referred to as GPRS such that
the circuit switching controls the voice part of the network
while packet switching controls the data transmission in the
network. CDMA2000 came into existence through the
introduction of the GPRS network. The major disadvantage
of this network is that it has a low speed in practice (i.e. its
theoretical speed is faster than the practical speed). The
evolution from 2.5G to 2.75G occurred through the
introduction of 8psk to the GPRS network. This leads to an
enhance data transmission rate.
EDGE was standardized by 3GPP as part of the GSM
family and it is an upgrade that provides a three-fold increase
in capacity of GSM and GPRS networks. However, the
second generation network system was found inadequate in
global roaming, capacity and speed. These lacking features
leads to the evolution of the third generation network system.
The primary aim for the emergence of the third generation
network system is specifically to offer greater speed in
practice to the subscribers and also support multimedia
activities. According to , based on the initiative-2000, the
International Telecommunication Union (ITU) defined 3G
network as a wireless network that is capable of high speed in
data transmission, ranging from 144kbps to greater than
The main reason for 3G to 4G all IP network evolution is to
form the same platform for all the pre-existing networks so as
to meet users’ needs as regards the expected improvement it
offers. In addition to all the 3G facilities, data transmission is
believed to go through the roof with speeds ranging between
100MBPs to 1GBPS - due to its fast speed, it is tagged a
network of “connect anytime, anywhere, anyhow”. 4G will
provide very smooth global roaming.
TABLE I: SUMMARY OF NETWORK GENERATIONS (1G-4G) 
PSTN, Packet network
Packet data and high capacity
High capacity and broad-
bandwith high speed
In Table I we compare the standards, data bandwidth, core
network, multiplexing and services of IG to 4G networks. In
4G networks, we have the WIMAX and LTE networks and
both are IP based.
We use quantitative data obtained for some differentiating
features of 3G and 4GLTE networks based on literature
reviews. Quantitative measures and charts were utilized to
generate information which established the superiority of
4GLTE over the 3G network. Using charts we illustrate and
compare downlink, uplink speed and latency between 3G and
4GLTE. These data were from the South African providers.
Moreover, based on literature review the advantages of
4GLTE network over 3G network was discussed in this paper.
In the next section we discuss features such as
interoperability, latency, scalability, design specification,
convergence, networking, cost effectiveness and data
V. DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
In this section we discuss the merits of 4GLTE over 3G
networks. Based on literature review, the following features
show the advantage of 4GLTE network over 3G network.
They are stated as follows:
Interoperability: This feature shows LTE as a network that
has the ability to roam with other existing networks. It helps
LTE to be a mobile and portable network such that the service
providers are not limited to a single network system.
Conversely, in 3G different standards makes it hard to
interoperate and roam with other existing networks.
Latency: It simply means the delay of packet sent from a
server to get the client and then back. In the LTE network,
there’s a very low latency which enhances speed of the
network because they are interconnected with other. The
lower the rate of latency or delay in response time, the faster
the interaction between the device and the network to which
it is connected . Low latency in LTE is as a result of its
support for games, application sharing, video and voice
conferencing over IP.
Scalability: The ability to handle increasing numbers of
users and diversity of services is referred to as scalability. It is
a challenging process in 3G but done with ease in 4GLTE
because it is an IP based network.
Design Specification: The 3G technology provides both
circuit design and packet design such that the combination of
these patterns makes 3G faster and better than the preceding
network. 4GLTE which is regarded as a seamless network
uses only packet switching which makes data transfer done in
nanoseconds compared to 3G network .
Convergence: In contrast to 3G, the fourth generation
network based on research is said to be a conglomerate of all
the existing network technologies rather than been a new
Journal of Advances in Computer Networks, Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2015
standard alone. By analysis, 4G network is defined as
combination of a local area network with the existing second
Networking: Unlike the third generation (3G) network
which is specifically based on a wide-area concept whereby
networking is limited, the 4GLTE network involves the
hybrid networks which include both the wireless LAN and
the base station WAN design . For this reason, the end
users have access to internet connectivity due to the presence
of base stations everywhere.
Cost Effectiveness: 4GLTE is a cost effective network
which doesn’t require the purchase of an extra spectrum as it
builds up on the existing networks. This is due to its capacity
to interoperate with the existing networks. Therefore
interoperability in LTE makes it a cost effective network
compared to the 3G network.
Data Transmission Rate: the 3G network which is based on
wideband CDMA operates in 5 MHz of bandwidth and
produces minimum download data rates of 384 kb/s under
normal conditions and close to 2 Mb/s as maximum rate. 3G
phone standards was expanded and enhanced to further
expand data speed and capacity. The WCDMA phones adds
high speed packet access (HSPA) of higher level QAM
modulation to get speeds up to 21 or 42 Mbps downlink (cell
site to phone) and up to 7 and/or 14 Mbps uplink (phone to
cell site). While in the fourth generation network, a
completely contrasting radio technology is used. LTE
support both FDD (Frequency Division Duplexing) and TDD
(Time Division Duplexing) and works with two multiplexing
techniques namely OFDMA and SC-FDMA for uplink and
downlink respectively .
Unlike CDMA in 3G, Orthogonal Frequency Division
Multiplexing (OFDM) and OFDM access are used. Here, the
modulation technique divides a channel usually 5, 10 or 20
MHz wide into smaller sub-channels or subcarriers each 15
kHz wide. Each is modulated with part of the data. The fast
data is divided into slower streams that modulate the
subcarriers with one of several modulation schemes like
QPSK or 16QAM.
TABLE II: COMPARISON OF 3G AND 4G NETWORKS 
driven data was
always add on
Converged data and
voice over IP
Wide area cell based
of wireless LAN
and wide area
(in mobile mode)
Circuit and packet
A number of air link
All IP based(IPv6)
In Table II we compare the network architecture, speed,
frequency band, switching techniques, access technologies
and Internet protocols of 3G and 4G networks.
LTE, in its basic form, does not support uplink Multiple
Input Multiple Output (MIMO) . LTE MIMO technique
that refers to utilize of multiple antennas at transmitter and
receiver area may be applied for both DL as well as for UL
channel . LTE’s ability to improve spectral efficiency
much beyond the current LTE performances is very much
unlikely, and so the only way to achieve that higher data rates
is to increase the channel bandwidth .
VI. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS
This section of the paper shows the use of self–analytical
tools to affirm the described differences and superiority of
4GLTE over the 3G network. The data used were gotten from
South African Latency and Speed test result through the
speed tester server for both 3G and 4GLTE network based on
MTN South Africa network.
In Table III we compare the latency time and speed test
results of 3G and 4GLTE.
TABLE III: LATENCY AND SPEED TEST RESULT FOR MTN SA 3G AND
In Fig. 1 we illustrate the chart representation for the
downlink and uplink speeds in both 3G and 4GLTE networks,
it can be confirmed that the downlink speed i.e. the speed
from the base station to end users is higher in the 4GLTE
network compared to that in the 3G network.
Fig. 1. Downlink and uplink speed representation.
Fig. 2. Latency/delay time representation.
The above stated data shows the uplink data in 4GLTE is
better off than 3G by a difference of 5.63Mbps in practice
based on MTN SA  network.
By taking into account the cognizance of the uplink speed
i.e. the speed for data upload is higher in 4GLTE network as
compared to that of the 3G network by a difference of
Journal of Advances in Computer Networks, Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2015
6.24Mbps as regards MTN SA  network. These speeds
constitute to the greater data transfer rates found in 4GLTE
network compared to that of 3G network.
Fig. 2 shows how delay time/latency that makes 4GLTE a
superior network compared to the 3G network. Latency as
known is the time taken for packet sent from the server to get
to the end user and then back to the server. Comparing a
latency of 44ms in MTN SA 4GLTE to the 99ms delay time
found in MTN SA  3G network, it simply means it takes a
decreased delay time of 55ms for packet sent on 4GLTE to
get to the client and then back to MTN SA  4GLTE server.
This is a practical feature that makes 4GLTE network
supports teleconferencing, games better than the 3G network.
VII. CONCLUSION AND FUTURE RESEARCH
In this paper we provide a high level overview from 1G to
4GLTE network and some factors responsible for migration
from each network to another. We discuss the advantages of
4GLTE network over 3G network. The speed, in particular,
the downlink and uplink, latency and the data transmission
rates were analyzed to show the superiority of 4GLTE to 3G
networks. Based on these proved features, 4GLTE network
offers a highly competitive performance and it provides a
good platform for further evolution. The downlink speed in
4GLTE is higher than 3G, and the uplink data in 4GLTE is
better off in 4GLTE and these networks also have a greater
data transfer rates than 3G networks.
Nevertheless, 4GLTE requires improvement in
interference cancellation at user terminal and as well, more
research work is required in the area of VoIP in 4GLTE
network. Migration from 4GLTE to LTE-Advanced and
comparison of their performance aspects is also a challenge
that needs critical consideration in the African context in
particular. There is scope for future research on the use of
4GLTE for the end users.
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A. D. Abioye completed his B.Tech. degree in Nigeria
and is pursuing his M.Tech. degree of electrical
engineering at University of Johannesburg, South
Africa. His research interests include 4G, 4GLTE
networks and telecommunications.
Meera K. Joseph received the degree of DPhil. in
engineering management from University of
Johannesburg in 2013 and M.C.A degree in 1997 from
Bangalore University, India. Many post graduate
students completed under her supervision and she has
many IEEE international conference papers, journal
papers and book chapters to her credit. Her research
interests include information and communication
technology for development, smart grids, cloud
computing, networks and telecommunications. She works as a senior
lecturer at UJ and is a professional member of IITPSA.
H. C. Ferreira received the degrees of B.Sc. (Eng.) in
electrical (cum laude) in 1976, M.Sc. (Eng.) in
electronic (cum laude) in 1978, and D.Sc. (Eng.) in
1980 from the University of Pretoria. From 1980 to
1981, he was invited to be a post-doctoral researcher at
the Linkabit Corporation (Predecessor of Qualcomm)
in San Diego, CA, USA. In 1983, he joined the Rand
Afrikaans University, Johannesburg, South Africa
(currently University of Johannesburg) where he was
promoted to professor in 1989. He has served several terms chairing staff
and line functions within the RAU Faculty of Engineering’s unique pre-1994
matrix structure, and also two terms as a chairman of the Department of
Electrical and Electronic Engineering, from 1994 to 1999. Since 1984, he
has been a visiting researcher at seven universities and two companies in
both the USA and Europe. This includes the Institute for Experimental
Mathematics at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, with whom
his research group has had a cooperation and exchange agreement since
1992. His research interests are in digital communications and information
theory, especially coding techniques. His current applications of the research
include power line communications, video communications and networks.
Journal of Advances in Computer Networks, Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2015